Tribes concerned about resident health, governor demands checkpoints be removed

EAGLE BUTTE, S.D. – The Rosebud Sioux along with the Cheyenne River and Oglala Lakota tribes, continue to reject Governor Kristi Noem’s demand to take down checkpoints on U.S. and state highways.

Cheyenne River Chairman, Harold Frazier has written to the governor, telling her the tribe appreciates her concern and will take the governor’s plan to remove the checkpoints under consideration.

NewsCenter1 had the opportunity to speak with Chairman Frazier, at the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) reservation.

“I don’t want to tell Rosebud how to live, I don’t want to tell Standing Rock how to live and I don’t want them to tell me how to live,” he says.

At CRST medical resources are limited and the medical center does not have the staffing it needs to take on an outbreak. If the virus were to spread on the reservation, it would need at least 1,000 beds at its medical center.

Frazier states, “right now we only have eight beds at our service unit and the level of care is very minimal. It’s probably just a little above ambulatory care. We’d have to refer them out to Rapid City.”

Monument Health in Rapid City says they have been working with health organizations all over the state, including tribal medical centers.

CRST hopes that with the help of checkpoints, they won’t have to send residents to Rapid City.

“The virus does not travel, it’s the people infected with the virus that travel and that’s what’s going to bring it in here into our land and our homes,” says Frazier.

Having the checkpoints also allows tribes to pinpoint exactly when the virus got there and who it came from.

At the checkpoints, officials take down phone numbers, so they are able to contact the people that have been in and out of the reservation.

“If it does come we will be able to track it because we have learned when you deal with the virus its best to try to isolate it as soon as possible contain it and definitely don’t allow it to spread,” states the chairman.

He adds, “the greatest right is the right to live, it’s more than anything that a man-made law could do because this is God’s law. God gave us the right to live.”

When asked about how long the checkpoints would be up, he says there isn’t a time limit and the virus will dictate their actions.

As of now, no legal action has been taken.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News